Aging Today Volume 30, Number 3 May–June 2009Copyright © 2009 American Society on Aging
Libraries nationwide are using other new programs to promote brain health. One example isthe Lielong Access Libraries Initiative, unded by The Atlantic Philanthropies, which is an all-inclusive way or older adults to improve their brain tness through civic engagement.
the game is ON
Gaming, thanks to the Nintendo Wii, is quickly becoming a major opportunity to oster inter-generational activities. At least
NYPL locations ordered Wii gaming equipmentand sotware programs in
, or both in-library use and to be checked out. The AmericanLibrary Association celebrated the rst “National Gaming @ Your Library Day” on November
, encompassing both board and videogames.Brigid Cahalan, an older adult services specialist at NYPL, says that Wii gaming has be-come one o the most popular activities that engages older adults in the libraries. Previously,more traditional computer classes had long been the major attraction. Says Cahalan, “I wewant to become hubs o learning and community activity, we need to oer new types o so-cial activities.” Gaming has turned out to be working well in attracting elders, with librarystas helping to create intergenerational activities and classes where teens teach and interactwith older adults.As libraries engage older adults with innovative lielong learning, civic engagement, gaming,health and wellness promotion programs and events, it appears that brain tness is the glue thatbinds these activities together. This raises an interesting question or librarians and proession-als in the elds o aging and lielong learning to consider: In the uture, could public libraries betransormed into health centers or the mind and brain?
health Clubs fOr the braiN
Marzena Ermler, NYPL coordinator o proessional development, believes that libraries needto “help people understand that libraries are healthy places or them to go. Lielong learning isnot just or advancement, but to stay sharp and healthy as we age.”Pauline Rothstein, coeditor o the American Library Association’s
Longevity and Libraries:Unexpected Voices
(to be published in late
), recommends that libraries “think o brain t-ness as the new concept that can help integrate diverse activities, identiy additional needed re-sources and explain our value to society. It makes sense to start with specic programming, anduse a new ramework to evaluate a variety o library services.”Rothstein believes that libraries need to stop ocusing so much on objects—such as buildings,books and DVDs—and instead ocus on services. They must explore the questions o how theyeducate and how they help the public navigate the escalating avalanche o inormation that dealswith how to keep our brains healthy. This evolution will require libraries to proactively listen tocommunity expectations, and to partner with local organizations, such as senior centers, to meetnew requirements.I libraries were reshaped as health clubs o the brain and the mind, they could become vitalinormation centers and dynamic destinations or brain tness programs, which would providea crucial service to America’s aging population.
Alvaro Fernandez is coounder and CEO o San Francisco-based SharpBrains (
), a market research frm covering applications o neuroscience and cognitive sci-ence in education and healthcare. He is coauthor o The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitnessand author o
The State o the Brain Fitness Sotware Market 2009
Books on the Brain
The ollowing books are helpul resources in understanding the growing eld o brain tness.
The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness:
Interviews with Scientists, Practical Advice, and Product Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp
(Sa Facisc, Caif.: ShapBais, Ic.,
) by Aa Fa a d. ekh Gbg